How to Write an Actor's Resume

by David Collins

Resume in typewriter

Your resume speaks volumes about you as an individual and how much you can contribute as an actor.

There is no business like show business. Just like other professions, show biz has set ways of conducting business and doing things. Like other industries, in order to be hired and get jobs in the movie business, you will need to submit a resume. As an aspiring actor, you need to know how to create a properly formatted actors resume which may very well include nearly every acting role or experience that you have had. Your resume speaks volumes about you as an individual and how much experience and training you may have. It's important that you take the time to craft your resume because it will be your ticket to an audition and of course can lead to stardom.

If you are already in the business you may have seen actors resumes that are fancy and over-the-top. You may also have seen the most basic of actors resume. All you really need is for your resume to appear professional and informative - not too fussy and not too far away from the point you are trying to make, which is that you are worth casting!

There most certainly aren't 101 stead fast rules for creating an actor's resume. But there is an industry standard format which means by following just a couple of handy hints when building your resume, your resume could have your acting career sprinting off the starting line, rather than lagging behind it.

So, what should your resume look like? For starters, ensure that your resume has your contact details like name, phone number, and email at the top. All your union affiliations should be clearly visible at the top of your resume, too. This information has to be prominently featured. Try to make the information bold or increase the font size. Any potential employer will see this information and then contact you for a job or an audition. Until the time you are booked for an audition or hired for a job, you really do not need to provide more than your phone number and your email. Avoid giving your home address unless absolutely necessary or you are specifically asked for it. Another piece of information that you absolutely need to avoid giving out is your Social Security number. In these times of digital identity thefts, you will need to safeguard your interests first.

Moving on, list the roles you've performed, the name of the production, and director or production company according to production type. Place your credits into these main categories: film, television, theater, and commercials. Your resume should be able to provide the entire range of work done in a rather basic list. Specifically mention a director or producer's name if it has value attached to it because this will surely make a difference. Remember you may tailor your resume to cater to specific roles. For example, if you are applying for a role in a musical then you might want to put your musical theatre categoty at the top.

Within each main category, always list your most professional projects first. If you lack a bunch of professional credits, and you have acted in school dramas or theatre productions, then mentioning it on your resume is not only acceptable but will take you a step ahead.

Below your main list of credits, include your educational qualifications and whatever training you have have had. You can also include the experiences that have influenced you to most and why.

As a rule of thumb, use only standard white paper. Don't use color paper or anything with flamboyant designs. The only thing that casting director or talent agent is interested in is YOU.

Basic Resume Guidelines
  • Use 8 x 10 inch white paper to match the size of your headshot or photo.
  • Make the font small enough so you can fit everything on the resume, but not too small that it's hard to read.
  • Don't use fancy fonts, the simpler the better - Arial or Verdana are good and easy to read.
  • Put your name in bold as the main header and so that it's clearly visible.
  • Below your name put down whether you are a singer or dancer. Or do you sing, dance AND act?
  • Add your vocal range only if you are a singer (e.g. Alto, Tenor, Baritone, ect.) Omit if you cannot sing.
  • Add credits to each category of your resume. If you don't have many in one category, add more to another category. List the most important or impressive ones first.
  • List a director's name if you took part in a performance that was directed by a well-known director, the same goes for actors - only list names of those you starred with if they are well known.
  • Add the location in which you performed / filmed. For example: Appeared in scenes 1, 3 and 6 at the recording studio at Disney, for the Mary Poppins film.
  • Put your training last. Don't forget to mention the acting school you went to if applicable or singing lessons that you are currently taking.
Avoid making a mess of your resume. A simple row of credits is all you need. Tacky or unformatted resumes are a complete death message and must be avoided at all costs! Casting directors usually tend to notice if your resume looks sloppy. A clean and structured resume fetches more attention than a cluttered resume. Make sure that there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in your resume. As a movie actor you can be creative in how you display all the relevant information. But remember to have a semblance and specific presentation pattern. After all, your resume is your ticket to success in the world of Show Biz and you don't want to miss boarding the flight!
David Collins is a talent coordinator for a successful variety television show. His career in television spans over 15 years.
Copyright © David Collins. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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